THE RAMS director of rugby is officially one of the top coaches in the country, after a remarkable debut season in National League One.
Despite the sport season finishing abruptly due to the Covid-19 outbreak, which has seen all leagues below the Gallagher Premiership end with immediate effect, the Rams were able to celebrate a brilliant season as runners-up having won 19 of their 25 league games.
The Berkshire side finished second behind ex-Premiership club Richmond, resulting in Seb Reynolds being named National League 1 Director of Rugby of the Year.
And three of their players made the starting XV in the National 1 “dream team”.
Flanker and ex-Piggott School pupil Tom Vooght and the club’s ‘captain fantastic’, Robbie Stapley, were named the best seven and eight respectively. Ollie Taylor, often described as one of the unsung heroes of the squad, got the nod on the five shirt — which recognised him as one of the best National 1 second rows in the country.
Seb Reynolds’ prestigious award comes on the back of sharing The Rugby Paper’s 2019 Coach of the Year award with Saracens’ Alex Sanderson.
It marked the young DoR and ex-Forest schoolboy’s extraordinary rise through the ranks since he started coaching the club’s second XV in 2012.
He has trained the Berkshire under 20’s team to two Twickenham finals, winning one of them, overseen two promotions for Rams and a blinding start to his club’s life at National 1, placing Rams among the top 26 teams in England.
“Mike [Tewkesbury – Rams ex-DoR] taught me that coaching is about enabling players and teams to develop,” said Seb, after he was awarded with the accolade as DoR of the year.
“That’s always been our key focus and I’ve also been lucky to work with a fantastic group of people that work incredibly hard on and off the pitch”.
Asked about the challenges for next season and going one better into first spot, Reynolds was quick to dismiss any notion that Rams are favourites for the 2020/2021 National 1 title despite their impressive debut season in the competition having only won promotion the previous season.
“We never think like that,” continued Reynolds.
“National 1 is an extraordinarily tough league with some great clubs competing in it and every Saturday you have to work your socks off to get a result.
“We will do what we’ve always done and go to work on improving what we are today”.
In addition to the three National 1 dream team starters, Rams had five other members mentioned, including fly-half and centre Andy Humberstone, Taylor’s second row partner Connor Stapley, hooker Ben Henderson, prop James Baker (another ex-Forest pupil) and young scrum-half Ollie Cole.
“It was great to get so many of our squad recognised for a terrific season,” added Reynolds, who then paid special tribute to two of his players.
“Ollie Taylor has done a fantastic job for us since joining from Bracknell in 2015, and I’m also pleased to see Andy Humberstone get the recognition he deserves after stepping into the 10 position when regular fly-half Alex Seers suffered an injury”.